The purpose of this policy is to support the knowledge, understanding and skills of school council members and provide guidance on improving governance.
- School council members can strengthen their performance by developing skills, knowledge and contributions through professional development.
- School council training modules are offered free of charge by the department to school council members, in 2 formats – Virtual Live or Interactive Online.
- School council members, including student members are strongly encouraged to attend Virtual Live training or access the Interactive Online modules.
- The School Council (principal or business manager login required) contains an online self-assessment tool has been developed to provide information and support to members in assessing their effectiveness as a group. School council members can use this tool to help them identify areas of strength and areas for improvement and training.
- An effective school council reviews the skills and expertise of members and aims to build knowledge and capacity across the group.
- Further information on developing good governance and school council skills and expertise is available on the Guidance tab. See also the Resources tab for tools and information.
Good governance enables the school council to
- perform efficiently and effectively
- respond strategically to changing demands and educational challenges
- strengthen community confidence in the school council.
Improving school governance training modules
The Improving school governance (ISG) training modules have been developed to improve the knowledge, understanding and skills of:
- school council members
- school council presidents
- school principals.
The ISG package consists of 5 online modules:
- strategic planning
- policy and review
- school council president.
The complete ISG training package is available at:
Virtual Live training
Virtual Live training replaces the face-to-face training program for the foreseeable future. It is delivered by trained facilitators, using video conferencing or on site. The training provider, Synergistiq will liaise with school councils who have booked training, to ensure informative and effective delivery.
This training covers 4 of the ISG training modules:
- strategic planning and
- school council president.
Virtual Live training is delivered free of charge to school councils of Victorian government schools. Schools or school councillors should contact Synergistiq, to book or register interest in training in any of the 4 modules:
Book Virtual Live training for school
Interactive Online training
School council members can also access an interactive online training program featuring videos and activities on the 5 ISG training modules.
School councillors can self-register to access the Interactive Online training through The Big Canvas learning management system (LMS) and complete these modules in sections, in their own time and pace.
Online training can be accessed individually or in small groups, at a time and place convenient to participants.
Training can be completed as a whole module or in part. Participants can bookmark and return to a module at a later time.
Completion certificates can be downloaded at the conclusion of each online module.
Access online interactive training modules for school
School governance – additional support
School council induction video
This induction video provides a summary of:
- the purpose and responsibilities of school councils
- the roles and duties of school council members.
Principals and school council presidents may use the video:
- as general information for school councils
- for recruiting prospective members, or
- for the induction of new school members
Induction for new members
All new members to school council will benefit from a supportive and encouraging induction to fulfil the duties of a school councillor.
Principals are encouraged to send a welcome letter to new members of school council. A sample letter can be found in the Resources tab of this policy.
Below is a list of supports new members may require.
Participation in meetings
Some new members, may require additional information to participate fully in school council meetings, including:
- advice on department language
- meeting protocols and conventions
- asking questions
- confidently speaking to an agenda item.
Induction support may include:
- providing a mentor who is trained to brief new members before and after meetings
- viewing the School Council Induction video
- a supportive meeting structure that encourages participation including:
- a glossary of terms and acronyms
- report templates
- encouraging new members to propose or second motions and participate in discussion
- principal and president meeting with new members to discuss the role of school councillor
- providing new members with responsibilities that will ensure they are included and accountable. These responsibilities may include membership of subcommittees and working groups and can be increased as their knowledge and capacity increases.
Department requirements and processes
New council members may also need support to understand department requirements and processes, especially around:
- legal issues
- policy content and requirements
- school data
- budgets and other financial information
- strategic planning.
The induction program may include:
- the opportunity for new members to
- participate in school council training and
- be made aware of, and use, the department’s resources relating to school councils
- access to appropriate school documentation
- strategic plans
- Annual Report
- Annual Implementation Plan
- meeting key school staff such as business and HR managers and curriculum and wellbeing coordinators.
Training and induction specifically for student members
Student school council members are encouraged to participate in training offered by the department, in consultation with the principal.
Where training takes place within school hours at the school at which the student attends – training is to be treated as an incursion.
Where training takes place outside of school grounds – this is to be treated as an excursion.
Where the training is outside of school hours or off-site, principals are required to:
- obtain informed consent from parents or carers, for their child to participate in school council training
- ensure adequate supervision arrangements have been made.
The principal in consultation with the parent or carer is required to have clear arrangements about how a student council member is travelling to-and-from training.
Where a student member is participating in the training, the principal is responsible for:
- providing evidence of parent or carer permission to the training providers
- providing the trainers with a copy of an excursion consent form signed by the parent or carer.
Student members may also need support managing their time with study, council and other commitments, for example, senior students need to focus on assessment and exams at various times of the year.
The principal and/or school council president should:
- liaise with student members’ parents to ensure they are aware of requirements, meetings and times
- also ensure that teachers are aware of the student members and their time commitment to school council.
School council self-assessment tool
The school council self-assessment tool located in the School Council (principal or business manager login required) is designed to be used by school council as a group providing discussion and support to members in:
- evaluating their effectiveness as a collective
- identifying areas for improvement.
Principals will be able to access an online version on the School Council Portal. As a group, council can discuss and review the self-assessment statements.
Further information on governance and the responsibilities and functions of school council can be found at School Council – Powers and Functions.
A self-assessment instructional video can be found in the Resources tab.
- School Council – Composition and Office Bearers
- School Council – Elections
- School Council – Overview
- School Council – Powers and Functions
Reviewed 27 April 2023